04/06/2015 06:01 BST | Updated 03/06/2016 06:12 BST

Tunnelling Finishes On Crossrail

A major milestone in the £14.8 billion cross-London Crossrail has been reached with the completion of the tunnelling work.

Eight giant boring machines have been cutting their way through earth under central London to pave the way for the start of services in 2018, with full services in 2019.

The 26 miles of London tunnelling has now finished on the project which will see trains running from as far west as Reading in Berkshire to as far east as Shenfield in Essex.

Ten new Crossrail stations are being constructed in central London and in London Docklands, as well as one at Abbey Wood in south London.

The Abbey Wood link is one of the two spurs, with another running to Heathrow Airport in west London.

At peak, the tunnelling machines aimed for around 100 metres of tunnelling progress a week, while millions of tonnes of excavated material from the tunnels were being shipped to create a nature reserve for birds at Wallasea Island in Essex.

The tunnels weave their way between existing Underground lines, sewers, utility tunnels and building foundations from station to station at depths of up to 120ft.

The final breakthrough was at Farringdon in the City of London. Running on some existing track as well as the new tracks through London, Crossrail will serve 40 stations and increase capacity through London by 10%.

The fastest day of tunnelling was on April 16 2014 when boring machine Ellie completed 236ft (72 metres) between Pudding Mill Lane and Stepney Green.

Crossrail's tunnels are made up of more than 200,000 concrete tunnel segments. Each tunnel segment weighs 3.4 tonnes.

Trains will be at least 200 metres long and there will be up to 24 trains per hour between Paddington and Whitechapel during peak times.

It is estimated that Crossrail will generate at least 75,000 business opportunities and support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs right around the UK. 

Begun in 2009, it is Europe's largest construction project with thousands of workers operating on dozens of different sites.